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teardrop trailer manufacturer FileMaker solution

How Skeleton Key Helped a Manufacturing Company Streamline Production

Skeleton Key specializes in leveraging the power of the FileMaker platform to streamline operations for companies in every industry. Here’s how we helped a manufacturing company develop a more seamless experience for customers, employees, and the production process.

The Work Rut at Vistabule Teardrop Trailers

vistibule logo

Based in St. Paul, Minnesota, Vistabule designs, manufactures, and sells highly customizable teardrop trailers. All of their trailers are made to order, so tracking orders at every stage of the production process is critical to customer satisfaction. Previously, customers had to download and fill out an Excel worksheet to place an order. The process was time-consuming, confusing, and prone to errors because customers had to work with a complicated pricing sheet in Excel.

On an operational level, relying on Excel spreadsheets for tracking trailer orders made it difficult to stay on top of critical metrics. Vistabule had no easy way to report on or predict future costs related to the parts they used. This struggle also resulted in shortages of in-demand components, leading to delayed manufacturing timelines. And if manufacturers placed recalls on specific parts Vistabule had used in the past, there was no easy way to track which parts had ended up on which trailer so they could notify customers.

In short, Vistabule was plagued by a complicated customer experience along with needing a centralized platform for data management, pricing orders, order status tracking, shipping timelines, invoicing, reporting, and customer relationship management. Vistabule had hit a work rut that was holding them back from achieving their broader business goals.

How Skeleton Key Helped Vistabule Overcome Inefficiency

The FileMaker solution Skeleton Key built for Vistabule has provided them with:

Seamless Integration

To tackle the problem of an inefficient, complicated ordering system, our team first developed a solution with a building and estimating tool. This tool integrates with other features of their system to track orders, invoicing, the status of specific parts, expected shipping dates, demand forecasts, and customer engagement. Now Vistabule has access to the critical data they rely on for day-to-day operations consolidated in one centralized platform.

WebDirect Ordering

Our team is also in the process of rolling out an intelligent and guided WebDirect version of their FileMaker solution to make it easier for future customers to place orders directly on Vistabule’s website. That way customers will no longer be confused by a tedious spreadsheet, and Vistabule will no longer struggle with trying to track orders in Excel.

Improved Customer Safety

The FileMaker solution we built for Vistabule makes it easy for their team to prioritize customer safety. Part orders are linked to customers and tracked in the system, so all of the components Vistabule uses on a trailer are connected to the owner. In the event of a recall, Vistabule will know exactly which customers are affected and be able to notify them accordingly.

Simplified Customer Relations

Vistabule now has the ability to track potential customers who are interested in their products, making marketing a breeze while converting prospects into happy customers.

Forecasts for Parts

Vistabule’s FileMaker solution accounts for how many customers order specific parts to ensure that those critical parts are always on hand by the time they’re needed in the manufacturing process. They can also create intuitive reports that help them align their operations and inventory with what customers want.

More Efficient Workflows

Ultimately, with our solution, the team at Vistabule saves substantial time that in the past would have been spent putting in orders and tracking down parts. Tracking customer orders and parts is now an intuitive process. Actionable information is always just a click away, and orders are delivered to customers in a more timely manner.

Skeleton Key Is Here to Help You Next

Has this case study given you some ideas about how a FileMaker solution can help streamline your business operations? If so, contact the experts at Skeleton Key today. Our team will work with you to create a customized solution around your unique inefficiencies and broader goals. When you partner with Skeleton Key, your team always has the tools to succeed today while preparing for the challenges tomorrow may bring.

software solutions for government agencies

An Introduction to FileMaker for State and Local Governments

With the power of the FileMaker platform, government organizations are addressing a variety of operational inefficiencies to better serve their communities. No matter how your organization serves the community, a customized FileMaker solution can help you too. If you aren’t quite sure how, we recommend you start by reading our previous post about what FileMaker can do for your organization.

If you already have a clear picture of what FileMaker can offer your team but you’re interested in exploring some examples in a government or bureaucratic context, that’s what we’re going to detail in this post.

Project Management

The ability to track project milestones, expenses, and timelines is critical to the success of any project. FileMaker allows your team to track every facet of your projects on one centralized platform. Because it offers the ability to integrate accounting data with the robust data API integration suite, you can be confident your next project stays within budget while tracking costs in real time. 

On top of making sure your organization isn’t overspending, you’ll be able to see exactly how your team is performing every step of the way, so you can quickly address any roadblocks before they slow progress down. With customizable dashboard functionality, you’ll even be able to ensure that every member of your team has access to the mission-critical metrics they need to measure their success.

Breaking Away From Appliance Applications

While appliance applications are often necessary and good at accomplishing a specific set of tasks, they rarely excel at efficiently streamlining the workflows unique to your organization. At the same time, they don’t give your team the ability to continually refine processes and grow. If your goal is maximizing productivity by overcoming inefficiency and work ruts, appliance applications rarely offer the flexibility to align with your goals. Fortunately, the FileMaker platform was specifically designed to help you maximize operational efficiency with a software solution built around your team’s day-to-day workflows. That makes FileMaker an ideal tool for breaking away from the constraints of appliance software as well as the work ruts they often (inadvertently) create.

Asset Management

Government organizations oversee a wide range of assets, including land, buildings, personnel, vehicles, electronic devices, and more. But how effectively are you tracking the use, location, and purpose of those assets? If there’s room for improvement, a FileMaker solution can help. From managing every asset your organization is responsible for to using the latest IoT sensors for real-time location tracking and monitoring, a FileMaker solution can streamline asset management and maximize accountability so you always know exactly where to find what you need.

Mobile Data Collection

If members of your organization frequently have to collect data in the field, they need a platform to simplify data entry while keeping your databases as up to date as possible. A FileMaker solution has the power not only to make data collection more intuitive but also to integrate all of the database sources, including MySQL, Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle, that your team might already be using.

Task Automation

If your team has become inundated with the burden of performing repetitive tasks like data entry and report creation, FileMaker can automate those tasks for you. By automating routine day-to-day tasks, you can empower your team with the freedom to focus on more critical operations that require a human touch.

Your FileMaker Experts

If operational inefficiencies have hindered your organization in the past, a FileMaker solution can help you turn those challenges into an opportunity for growth. Contact the experts at Skeleton Key today, and we’ll work with you to develop a customized FileMaker solution around your specific goals and operations.

filemaker software solutions for government

How Skeleton Key Helped a Government Agency Manage Data

When you partner with Skeleton Key for a customized FileMaker solution, we make it our goal to help you overcome operational inefficiencies, manage data more effectively, and maximize productivity. Here’s how we helped the City of Florissant’s Public Works Department accomplish just that.

The City of Florissant’s Public Works Department

COF-Logo

The Public Works Department of the City of Florissant manages occupancy permits, oversees property inspections, and handles other critical infrastructure regulations to keep residents safe and the city running smoothly. With a growing population of renters and the city requiring occupancy permits for both temporary and permanent residents, the Public Works Department deals with a massive amount of data on a daily basis.

The Problem

When a house was sold or an apartment rented in Florissant, the occupancy permit for each individual living at the residence had to be manually entered into the agency’s database. After years of using this system, their database had become bogged down by duplicate data that occurred when individuals moved residences while remaining in Florissant. In these instances, new records were created each time the same resident moved. 

As a result, their system had become bogged down by redundant data every time a new occupancy permit was issued and a new record created. These permits were then manually printed on separate pieces of paper and mailed out to residents and property owners. Because these records needed to be accessed frequently to verify residency for jobs and schools, redundant entries were noticeably slowing the process down.

Issuing occupancy permits was just a small part of the Public Works Department’s day-to-day operations. On top of handling permits, scheduling and executing property inspections was also a manual effort, and processing the physical inspection paperwork that resulted became increasingly complex. Building permit pricing tables and fees had to be manually tracked for each job, which slowed down turnaround times for residents, landlords, and contractors alike. 

Not only was their current system not a good fit for the rigorous data management they required, but they were also stretching their current technical bandwidth thin with new data-tracking requests from the city. Florissant’s community was growing, and the developer they’d relied on in the past wasn’t able to add the features they needed. That’s when they looked to Skeleton Key for help.

The Solution

By partnering with Skeleton Key, the City of Florissant was able to build a new FileMaker solution that offers the flexibility to evolve with the changing needs of their workplace and city. Streamlined data normalization means that records for residents who move and get new occupancy permits are consolidated and searched quickly. This strategy now completely eliminates instances of redundant, cumbersome data.

With the department’s FileMaker solution, the application process for occupancy and building permits is now paperless, cutting down on cost and time for all stakeholders. Applications no longer have to be manually tracked and entered into the system. Property inspections can now be scheduled quickly online, and the results can be entered in a streamlined database that simplifies report creation.

The Result

With their new FileMaker solution, the City of Florissant is now a more efficient government body and a better place for residents to live. The Public Works Department plans to continue its partnership with Skeleton Key to better respond to the needs of its growing community.

We’re Ready to Help You Next

If this case study has given you some ideas for how Skeleton Key can help your organization next, contact our experts today. We’ll work with you to understand your specific needs and goals so our experts can develop a customized solution for your organization and the community you serve.

focus on fundraising

A Non-Profit’s Guide to FileMaker

We’ve covered what FileMaker can offer your organization in previous posts. If you aren’t yet familiar with the fundamentals of the FileMaker Platform, we recommend you start there. In this post, we focus on the unique challenges non-profits face and how a custom FileMaker Platform can tackle those problems.

Areas Where the FileMaker Platforms Excels

With a FileMaker solution developed around your unique goals and operations, you can address inefficiencies in these areas:

Fundraising

Whether you’re planning a fundraising event or you’re tracking an ongoing fundraising initiative, FileMaker makes it that much easier to ensure you achieve your goals. By integrating smaller milestones into larger projects and making them accessible via a comprehensive dashboard, FileMaker keeps your team motivated with a clear path toward success. No longer will your team have to guess whether their work is paying off; with FileMaker, they’ll be able to track and witness the fruits of their labor in real-time.

Content Management

Clarifying and expanding your organization’s messaging is critical to maximizing the amount of good you’re about to do. FileMaker has the capabilities to streamline and centralize your content management platforms. From uploading and tracking blogs to managing your next marketing campaign, the FileMaker Platform allows you to ensure your branding remains consistent at every level while sending powerful messages to potential donors, volunteers, and the world at large.

Event Management

Fundraising events are an essential part of expanding your organization’s reach in the community. With so many moving pieces, making sure your next event goes off without a hitch could quickly turn into a full-time job in itself. Let FileMaker track the assets, personnel, milestones, and vendors your next event will depend on for success. Because your FileMaker solution updates in real time, every member of your team has access to the latest information and you can see how planning comes together with just a few clicks or taps.

Expense Reporting

Running a successful non-profit is about more than just raising money; you need to know precisely how you’re spending it, too. FileMaker simplifies expense reporting for everyone in your organization so you can accurately break down expense reports. As a non-profit, transparency is critical to ensuring your organization’s integrity and reputation remain untarnished. With FileMaker, you’ll be able to prioritize transparency like never before, so you can hold your team accountable to donors, volunteers, and the communities you serve.

Personnel Records

As a non-profit, your people are your most valuable asset. With FileMaker, staying up to date on who’s backing your organization becomes an organic part of your day-to-day operations. From tracking volunteer applications and background checks to overseeing employee benefits, a FileMaker centralizes the resources your organization needs to grow.

Volunteer Scheduling

If your organization depends on volunteers to maximize how much good you’re able to do, you understand the importance of simplifying scheduling. After all, the easier you make it for employees to schedule when and where they want to volunteer, the more likely they are to follow through on their commitment. 

With the FileMaker Platform, you can make it simple for volunteers to plan and track their schedules. At the same time, your team will be able to see exactly how much help they can expect at any given time. Because your updates are in real-time, you can minimize the risk of any miscommunication about when and where volunteers are supposed to be.

Donor and Sponsor Engagement

While engaging donors and sponsors is essential to gaining access to resources today, it’s all the more important to inspire benefactors to continue supporting your cause in the future. With the intuitive FileMaker Platform, you can prioritize donor engagement and ensure everyone in your community understands your organization’s latest project, initiatives, events, and accomplishments. With a centralized platform for tracking and managing sponsor engagement, you can be confident that all your organization’s partners are prepared to support your goals.

Your FileMaker Partners

As a non-profit organization, you understand the importance of forming long-term relationships for ongoing success. If you’re interested in leveraging the power of the FileMaker Platform to help your organization achieve new levels of prosperity, contact the experts at Skeleton Key today. We’ll take the time to understand your organization’s unique mission and values so we can design and deploy a FileMaker solution that helps your organization maximize the amount of good you’re doing in the world.

creative team working

A Creative Services Introduction to FileMaker

For teams in the creative services industry, staying flexible is critical to the successful design and deployment of projects. At the same time, having to perform repetitive tasks frequently interferes with tasks that require a more creative touch. Fortunately, the FileMaker Platform can help your organization overcome both of these challenges with customized software built around your team’s workflows.

In this post, we’ll explore some of the real-world inefficiencies the FileMaker Platform is designed to streamline, so you can transform how your creative team works at every level.

Project Management

If your team uses multiple software platforms to track and manage ongoing projects, it doesn’t take much to delay project timelines. From losing track of critical documents to having to switch between multiple applications and reenter the same status and tracking information multiple times, having disparate and disconnected software systems ultimately breeds inefficiency.

FileMaker allows you to consolidate disparate software programs and database systems into one centralized platform. At the same time, your team members can continue using the specialized tools and services they still need  without worrying about losing track of any aspect of their projects.

Ultimately, using a customized FileMaker solution to oversee your creative projects allows your organization to deliver more predictable timelines. You’ll also minimize project overhead by more efficiently utilizing project management resources, potentially allowing your team to manage more projects in less time.

Photo Management

Whether your organization relies on photographs to create advertisements or track assets, a FileMaker solution can help you manage those photos more efficiently and effectively. With powerful search capabilities and the ability to leverage Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, your team can quickly tag and find the images they need based on specific criteria. At the same time, FileMaker’s mobile platform allows everyone in your organization to access those same photos whenever  work takes them into the field on photo shoots or client site visits.

Video Production and Editing

A customized FileMaker solution can allow your team to track every second of every shot at every stage from production to post-production. By allowing you to track where you’re at during every stage of creation and editing, you can quickly identify any roadblocks or conflicts that might impact how you’re allocating talent or equipment. Since your entire team can work on a shared platform, FileMaker significantly minimizes the risk of miscommunication at every stage. And with robust reporting features, you can schedule automated project updates to keep all key stakeholders updated on timelines while you focus on more critical tasks.

Organizations in the creative services industry have even used the FileMaker Platform to develop compelling visual effects programs customized to their needs. Since visual effects often require processing vast amounts of data and the FileMaker Platform specializes in just that, a tailored program offers an ideal opportunity to streamline video production and post-production.

Advertising Design and Strategy

From tracking advertisement assets during development to finding the ideal locations to place those ads, FileMaker makes it easy to ensure you’re maximizing every client’s advertising budget. These capabilities allow your team to stay focused on the more creative aspects of designing attention-grabbing ads. At the same time, FileMaker’s data API capabilities can even allow you to track the ongoing success of advertisements, so you can further refine marketing strategies with real-time data.

Apparel and Fashion

For a clothing or fashion-oriented organization, FileMaker can manage all your mission-critical tasks, including:

  • Inventory tracking and management
  • Online and offline sales
  • Design and production

With FileMaker, your team will be able to track every step of your next project, thereby maximizing communication and collaboration while minimizing obstacles or bottlenecks. And with an intuitive user interface that can be crafted to match your unique workflow and perspective, your team members can quickly learn the intricacies of your solution so they can integrate it into their day-to-day tasks right away.

Web Design and SEO

Effective web design and the ability to be found by customers have become critical aspects of ensuring the ongoing success for businesses in every industry. FileMaker can simplify every aspect of web design and search engine optimization (SEO) for both your own internal operations and those of your clients. From tracking critical keywords to performing website audits and tracking design changes, the FileMaker platform makes it easy to ensure you’re maintaining a strong online presence in an increasingly digital world.

Partner with the Experts at Skeleton Key

Whether your team has hit a work rut or disparate software systems have overburdened your day-to-day operations, the FileMaker experts at Skeleton Key are here to help you overcome your barriers to success. We’ve already helped hundreds of organizations in every industry streamline inefficiencies with FileMaker, and we’re ready to help you find innovative solutions to your problems. Contact our team to get started today.

operation food search

How We Streamlined Data Entry for a Non-Profit

At Skeleton Key, our overarching goal is to help people and organizations in all sectors, including non-profits, overcome operational inefficiencies and escape the work rut with the power of the FileMaker Platform. When Operation Food Search came to us with some specific challenges they were facing, our team readily accepted the task. In this post, we’ll explore the particular problems, solutions, and results related to that project so you can gain a deeper understanding of how Skeleton Key can help your organization next.

The Mission of Operation Food Search

operation food search

Operation Food Search is committed to connecting people with food. They work with partner agencies to close the food gap in rural and urban communities by coordinating and scheduling with those partners to collect donations from restaurants and grocery stores. Their partners then distribute those donations to food pantries across the region.

The Problem

When Skeleton Key and Operation Food Search met, Operation Food Search was drowning in triplicate forms generated during the cumbersome donation and pick-up process. Even disregarding this inefficiency and the sheer cost of the paper forms themselves, it took the organization weeks to account for a single day’s worth of donations. These extended turnaround times resulted in frustration, food waste, and miscounted donations—or even missing donations entirely—because of incomplete forms and a lack of real-time, actionable data. If ever there was a work rut that needed escaping, Operation Food Search was in it.

Operation Food Search realized they needed an easier way to orchestrate and manage donation information. Fortunately, a donation of iPads from one of their largest donors prompted an introduction to the business team at the local Apple Store and a subsequent referral to the problem solvers at Skeleton Key.

The Solution

Operation Food Search worked with Skeleton Key to build a custom FileMaker solution and replaced almost all the donation paperwork with iPads that were either purchased directly or provided by donors. Partner agencies now use the iPads and the user-friendly app created by Skeleton Key to collect real-time information at every step of the process, without the need for a consistent internet connection. 

This new approach enables Operation Food Search to quickly scale and adapt to meet their donors’ growing generosity. With the ability to handle increased donations as well as pick-up demands, Operation Food Search is now able to account for more contributions every day. By using FileMaker and having Skeleton Key as their development team, Operation Food Search is making it easier to get more food to the people who need it most.

The Result

As a direct result of their customized FileMaker Platform, Operation Food Search has been able to accept and deliver more food donations every day, thereby maximizing the amount of good they’re able to do in the community.

Skeleton Key Is Here to Help Your Organization Next

No matter what industry your organization operates in, the team at Skeleton Key is ready to help your team overcome specific challenges next. Contact us today, and we’ll work with you to clarify your unique struggles and show how the FileMaker Platform can help you overcome those inefficiencies.

creative team maximizing productivity

How Skeleton Key Helped a Creative Team Maximize Productivity

At Skeleton Key, we help organizations overcome operational inefficiencies by leveraging the power of the FileMaker platform. If you’re looking to gain a clearer understanding of how we accomplish this goal, these are the problems we solved for the Creative Department at Bass Pro Shops.

The Creative Department at Bass Pro Shops

basspro

The Creative Department at Bass Pro Shops designs and curates all online content for the brand. In-house designers use vendor samples to develop product images while writers create copy, including product descriptions and web posts, for the site. The department also oversees supplemental tasks like proofing content and shipping notifications before they go live. As a result, the creative team at Bass Pro Shops handles substantial amounts of information on any given day, and the amount of data they manage only increases over time.

The Problem

The Creative Department had been using spreadsheets shared on a network and via email to track projects, photographs, content, and editing, which significantly constricted productivity. For management, the inability to track information and generate accurate reports on demand made it difficult to reliably discern project timelines. Since the systems they were using did not communicate with each other, management struggled to differentiate between projects in progress, items that were stalled, and completed work. Thus, managers had to investigate each project’s status and manually update their systems every step of the way. This approach made it impossible to clarify project timelines at a glance, and managing project spreadsheets became a full-time job in itself. 

With only disparate spreadsheets to go off of, employees struggled with knowing whether or not a vendor sample had been photographed. This information was critical when it came time to store, return, or dispose of a sample. At the same time, each item often had multiple SKUs based on variations in sizes and colors. Ensuring that all of these variables had been accounted for became needlessly complex within their tangle of spreadsheets. The systems they used to track website changes, special events, sales, image production, and copy creation were all disconnected, so critical tasks were often delayed or forgotten altogether.

Before long, their spreadsheets started crashing almost daily, resulting in lost time, data, and reduced productivity. Management realized they did not have a consolidated platform or the reporting tools they needed to continue growing. Simply put, the Creative Department at Bass Pro Shops found themselves stuck in a work rut. That’s when they reached out to the experts Skeleton Key.

The Solution

After researching the power of the FileMaker platform and the capabilities of our team, the Creative Department at Bass Pro Shops contacted Skeleton Key. Their primary goal was to unify the disparate system they’d been using to track projects, photographs, content, and editing. They also wanted to be able to create powerful reports, so management could quickly survey project status and confirm deadlines were being met. 

Our experts took the time to understand their unique challenges, day-to-day workflows, and broader organizational goals. With in-depth insights into how FileMaker could streamline routine tasks and maximize productivity, we created a customized FileMaker solution using our five-step development process.

The Result

With their new application, the Creative Department now has an intuitive portal for entering and tracking projects, images, SKUs, and all of the other data on which they depend. When managers need to assess progress reports quickly, their database communicates with the requisite systems to deliver real-time reporting. 

Having access to a concurrent platform means every stakeholder and participant in every affected department can be confident that work is done once, tracked effectively, and promptly reported to management. As a result of how easily key stakeholders can find the information they need, the turnaround time for projects has decreased significantly, making it simpler to keep website content up-to-date and relevant.

Overall, with their new FileMaker solution, the Creative Department at Bass Pro Shops can accurately track and complete projects more efficiently and effectively. More importantly, they now have the tools to further optimize processes, continue growing, and they’re no longer stuck in a work rut.